Win free fuel for a year
 March 30th, 2014

With fuel prices so high these days – - on top of all the other rising prices, wouldn’t free gas for a year be a fabulous boon to your budget? What if you could win free gas for several friends as well? Well, it’s worth a try with this new contest. Sign up and enter to win free fuel for a year for yourself and your friends. Shell is offering this gas contest so take advantage of the opportunity. The reasons behind fuel costs are complex, and yesterdays new EPA rules stand to make fuel prices go up even more. Here in California, we already have some of the strictest requirements for emissions, which means we also have some of the highest gas prices. What we’d like is cheap gas. Maybe you’ll get lucky with Shell’s contest for free fuel for a year.


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Six free ways to tell your Valentine, “I love you.”
 February 11th, 2014

free Valentine's6 free Valentine “I love yous”

by San Diego on the Cheap Editor/Publisher, Sheri McGregor

How do I love free? Let me count the ways.

Valentine’s Day, with its blatant message, can feel fraught with landmines. Did you do enough? Will a card be sufficient, or must you buy a diamond, plan a getaway or otherwise wow? Monetary value doesn’t prove love, and a gift from the heart can be free. Here are 6 ways to demonstrate love without spending.

  1. Stroll down memory lane. Revisiting good times or considering all you’ve been through together can rekindle sparks, help couples connect or just be fun. Nostalgic “Memory Lane” may include a visit to a specific address or location, but could also mean looking through old photographs or videos. Last Valentine’s Day, my husband and I took a walk on the beach. While a stroll in the sand can be romantic, the activity took us back to all the beach walks we took while dating. We relived our earliest times together and shared special moments we remembered from those times. Think back to your earliest dates, the place you met and the events you attended. Share a specific memory: something your lover once said or did that surprised, flattered or made you laugh. Good memories are fun to recall. Thanking your lover for a specific action or a few small words uttered long ago shows how much you truly value him or her.
  2. Send a love letter. In today’s age of instant connectivity, an old fashioned, handwritten love scented with cologne or perfume before popping into the physical mail will have a big impact on your romantic interest. Though technically the price of a postage stamp, if you use one you have on hand you can call this free. Too late for the mail? Consider penning a few sticky notes. Place them where you know they’ll surprise: your mate’s car steering wheel, on the refrigerator, the bathroom mirror. A few loving words you think up and write yourself will go a long way to creating a loving atmosphere that carries on throughout the day and perhaps into the night.
  3. Breakfast in bed. Too bad there’s not always time off for Valentine’s Day, but even without that luxury  a cup of coffee or tea made just the way your sweetheart likes it and served in bed is a lovely way to start the day. Add a chocolate kiss, warm toast, an orange you’ve peeled, a few grapes or a box of raisins. A few minutes invested makes you loving and loveable first thing in the morning.
  4. Rock your relationship. If you’re open to the idea, you’ll be amazed at how many heart-shaped rocks you’ll see. Find one and give it to your Valentine instead of a card. Be open to other shapes too. Whether heart-shaped, pinkish in color or simply pretty to look at, a small rock can provide a lasting touchstone that’s kept on a desk, on the night table or tucked away in some private spot. In the movie Something’s Gotta Give, a single dark stone in a bowl of white ones represents the one-in-a-million Diane Keaton has found in Jack Nicholson. You might do something similar with an unusual stone you present nestled in a dish of monotone aquarium gravel or with a note.
  5. Take a drive and park. Pack a light dinner or some snacks and head out for a drive. Park where there’s a view of the ocean, sky or some place that’s personally meaningful to your relationship. Enjoy a parked picnic. If you shared your first kiss in the car, relive the moment. If not, make new romantic memories. You can always hit the defrost button later if necessary.
  6. Bookmark it. Homemade gifts are always special. If your lover likes to read, use cardstock and a computer program to make a cute bookmark that declares your love. You could add a photo of the two of you, words from a famous love poem or one you write yourself.  Perfection isn’t important. Cut out with fancy-edge scissors or punch a hole and add ribbon if you want to. Or not. It’s the caring that counts.

With a little forethought and effort, you can skip the clichéd roses and candy. Give a free Valentine’s Day gift that provides meaning and strengthens your relationship.

San Diego on the Cheap is an affiliate partner to some sites listed here. They show gratitude for my referrals in the form a small fee. This allows San Diego on the Cheap to keep bringing you the deals!

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California’s Coastal Discovery Month specials
 January 7th, 2014

Have you ever wanted to travel the California coast? February is Coastal Discovery month, so there are some terrific hotel specials to help you get away and play (without too far a drive up the coast). These are for central coast (San Simeon, Hearst Castle area), but we’re not so far away here in San Diego that for those wanting a quick February getaway they can’t take a little drive. One of my favorite vacations of all time was a winter San Simeon, California stay. The elephant seals are giving birth on the beaches this time of year, and it’s a sight to behold. You won’t ever forget the experience.

I’m sharing the press release for Coastal Discovery Month with you right here:

Throughout February visitors can participate in a plethora of activities including more than 70 unique Stewardship Travel opportunities. Discover special lodging rates and/or activities during Coastal Discovery & Stewardship Month:

The Baywood Inn 
(805) 528-8888; www.baywoodinn.com
Enjoy 50% off second night while enjoying the beautiful sights and sounds of the Back Bay estuary. Available Sunday through Thursday excluding holidays, 1/2/2014-3/31/2014.

Her Castle Bed and Breakfast Inn  
(805) 924-1719; www.hercastle.cc
Receive $10 off your second night at this lovely home nestled in the woods just south of Cambria. Call to make reservations.

San Simeon Pines Seaside Resort
(805) 927-4648; www.sspines.com
Stay two nights and receive a $20 per night discount plus a bottle of wine. Stay three nights and receive the 3rd night at half off. Call to make reservations at (866) 927-4648 and mention “Winter Special.”

California On The Beach 
(805) 995-3200; www.californiaonthebeach.com
Enjoy three nights for two at this upscale, casual and romantic beach-front hotel. Call to make reservations, s ome restrictions apply.

Victoria’s Last Resort 
(805) 927-2275; www.victoriaslastresort.com
Enjoy $50 off your second night stay at Cambria’s only Bed & Brunch, where brunch is served any time of day. Call to make reservations.

Avila Lighthouse Suites 
(805) 627-1900; www.avilalighthousesuites.com
Stay two nights and receive 20% off at the Avila Lighthouse Suites. Call to make reservations and reference WineCoastCountry.com.

Blue Dolphin Inn 
(805) 927-3300; www.bluedolphininn.com
Take advantage of the Coastal Romance Package that includes complimentary gourmet “Picnic Breakfast to Go” delivered to room daily.  Call to make reservations.

Avila Beach Apartments and Vacation Rentals
(805) 714-4127; www.avilabeachapartments.com
Stay in one of two private beach homes and save 10% now through the end of April. M ention Wine Coast Country for discount.

The Morgan
(805) 927-3878;
www.hotel-morgan.com
Choose from three specials including massage, specialty cookies or adventure. Call to make reservations at (888) 909-3989.

Avila La Fonda Hotel 
(805) 959-1700; www.avilalafondahotel.com
Stay two nights and receive the exclusive Romance Package. Call to make reservations. Use promo code COASTAL.

To find a complete listing, check out the list of Coastal Discovery Month hotel specials.

Weight Watchers 50% off
 January 7th, 2014

The holidays are over, and summer months come on fast (like the pounds). It’s never too late to trim down for health and confidence if you need to shed a few pounds. Learn to lose weight and make 2014 your most fit year yet.  They say that groups are good for people when it comes to losing weight and maintaining weight loss.  Weight Watchers promises tools and support. Getting a one-month pass at Weight Watchers saves you 50% right now. Is it time to start the New Year with support for your healthy weight goals?

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Free health screenings at Sams
 January 7th, 2014

One good thing to get out of the way early each year are any health screenings or health appointments you need to make. January is always a good time to mark big items off your list that are done on a yearly basis. Why not get some health screenings so you can know where you stand healthwise (perhaps after holiday indulgence). Well, Sam’s Clubs offer free health screenings. If you’re a Sam’s member, then take advantage of the free health tests like free cholesterol testing, free blood glucose testing, free BMI calculator, free vision testing. . . . Sam’s has San Diego locations and is offering free health screenings on January 11.

You can find out more, and where your closest Sam’s club is located here. By the way, Sam’s club is a bargain for those seeing club membership prices. It’s $45/year (beats Costco by the price of a dinner out with a date). So  if you have one fairly close to you, Sam’s may be a good club for you.

Periodically, Sam’s Club offers free health screenings that include blood pressure, BMI, vision screening, total cholesterol screening and more (even glucose screening). This Saturday, July 13, Sam’s is offering a pretty extensive list of health screenings (up to $100. value). Sometimes finding out a few details about yourself can help with your health, and you can do so with free health screenings in a non-threatening environment.

You can check out what health screenings are offered at San Diego area Sam’s Clubs (as well as across the country) by looking at the free health screenings page

By the way … did you know that Sam’s Club also has a free healthy living magazine. You can find this digital health magazine (free) here.


San Diego Daily Deals and Discounts
 January 6th, 2014

It’s  the new year and San Diegans everywhere put the kids back in school today and are ready to move forward with the holidays done — for now (have you seen the Valentine’s decorations everywhere already?!). Anyway, maybe it’s time to treat yourself a little now. Whether it’s gift money, or just time to gift yourself, spending smart is always important. Why pay full price when you don’t have to? Here are a few hot deals for the new year. You can save at Coldwater Creek, get discount maternity fashions at Modish Maternity in North County, save money on new glasses at two San Diego locations (Carmel Valley’s Optometry Cabana, and at Dr. Mozlin, Optometrist in Encinitas), and check out a large selection of San Diego dining on -the-cheap.

Read on to see a few great daily deals for San Diego County.

Get this great bargain: Coldwater Creek deal $25 for $50 in apparel and accessories deal. You can buy two of these deals for yourself and up to three as gifts (more gifts!). Do the math — it’s half off at Coldwater Creek.

In North County, you probably weren’t expecting this fashion deal for the expecting. In North County get this Modish Maternity discount – - a hot half off Modish Maternity deal. Expect to look good while expecting. . . .

Do you want to start 2014 with a better view of the world? Well, maybe a new look that allows a better of view of you is in order. With new glasses with this Optometry Cabana deal, you’ll spend $45. for a $300. value. Optometry Cabana offers you a full exam and $150. toward a new pair of glasses for just $45. Get the Optometry Cabana deal in Carmel Valley.

Need new glasses but figure Encinitas is closer. You might want to snag this great deal from Dr. Mozlin, Optometrist. For $59, you’ll receive an eye exam and $175. toward glasses ($294. value). Discount eyeware doesn’t have to look discount. Invest in some great new glasses for cheap in Encinitas.

Even though it’s all about losing weight and getting in shape this time of year, we must eat. Why not have a few meals out, at some of San Diego’s fun and finest restaurants. Browse the offered restaurant discounts in the San Diego area. There’s everything from surf friendly spots to French cuisine. Mouthwatering meals for cheap.

You might also find these articles helpful:

Spend less with 8 proven tips

Popcorn: back to basics dollar saver

5 ways to get organized and save money

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Sponsored links used in this and other posts help fund San Diego on the Cheap.

San Diego on the Cheap is an affiliate partner to some sites listed here. They show gratitude for my referrals in the form a small fee. This allows San Diego on the Cheap to keep bringing you the deals!

Don’t miss a single deal! Add your email address to subscribe to the RSS feed on the right. AND, Like San Diego on the Cheap on Facebook.

Restaurant coupons
 October 16th, 2013

The current restaurant coupons are here, served on a San Diego on the Cheap platter! These food and drink deals are good at a variety of restaurants, so check out the restaurant coupons, and see if any of them fit your schedule. They’re alphabetized, and I’ve included the expiration date with the listing as much as possible. You know you like to get food on the run, sit down for a nice meal in a serene atmosphere, or just eat out when you can (on-the- cheap of course). Look below for current San Diego restaurant coupons.

Go San Diego Card - 50+ San Diego Attractions for 1 low price

Baskin Robbins has a BOGO special on sundaes. Buy one two-scoop sundae and get a second free-only on Wednesdays. Good through December 2013. Check out the deal and find your nearest Baskin Robbins.

Blimpie’s will like you back with a Blimpie’s coupon for some free Blimpie’s food if you like them on facebook. You’ll have to hit “like” on the Blimpie’s facebook page, and then use the “get coupon” tab.lets

Boston Market is offering a free dessert right now with purchase. See the Boston Market coupon for details. Good now through October 20, 2013.

Buca di Beppo is a family-style Italian restaurant with a current deal that gives you $10 off. Get your Buca di Beppo coupon and read the details for this coupon that is good through November 3, 2013. If you join their e-club (click image below), you’ll get $15 off with a Buca di Beppo coupon, plus receive special offers throughout the year.

Buca di Beppo

Chili’s Bar & Grill has expanded their popular 2 for $20 menu. Check with your local location to see if they’re participating. No coupon required.

Jamba Juice

Einstein Bros Bagels is offering a bucket deal so you can be the good guy at work. Get a baker’s dozen (13) bagel bucket with two tubs of smears for $9.99 with this Einstein Bros coupon good through October 29, 2013.

KFC has a Saturday and Sunday deal for $10 buckets. You get 10 pieces any way you want them for $10. The deal does not require a KFC coupon and it’s good for a limited time (although there’s no end date announced just yet). The deal is featured at their website (scroll down).

Macaroni Grill. Do you want wine with that macaroni? Then 1/2 off house wines at Macaroni Grill may be for you. There’s no end date posted yet. See more at their website.

Olive Garden has a deal for a free non-alcoholic beverage that’s good through October 27, 2013. Get the Olive Garden coupon that will get you a free drink when you purchase an unlimited breadsticks, salad, etc. lunch before 4pm.

On The Border

Outback Steakhouse has a few specials right now. They’re no worry Wednesday deal is 3 courses for $11.99. And the Outback Steakhouse Turf & Surf lobster deal has just returned by popular demand.

Red Lobster has announced that is will be featuring daily deals, Monday through Thursday. Here’s the scoop: Mondays and Tuesdays get a Shrimp Lovers special for $12.99. On Wednesdays get a four-course feast for $13.99. On Thursdays get a half-off BOGO on a fresh fish entree. No coupons are required for these Red Lobster specials.

Rubio’s has a couple of interesting Rubio’s coupon deals that are good through October 20, 2013. Get a free guacamole and chips if you buy a sangria drink with this Rubio’s coupon. Or, if you want to order their Coastal Trio to eat, you can also get a free guacamole and chips with this Rubio’s coupon. Both are good through October 20, 2013.

Saigon Bistro & Grill in Rancho Bernardo is one of those hidden gems around our county. Enjoy tasty, authentic Vietnamese cuisine in a serene setting – - and get a 20% off coupon (print it out). The restaurant is slightly hidden even with the address, so here’s how to find your way: Once at the CVS and Big 5 shopping area on Bernardo Center Drive, you’ll want to look to the right of CVS and Big 5. Head toward the fountain, because the restaurant is directly behind it. Get the Saigon Bistro & Grille coupon with the link above, and go to their home page to find out more here.

Smashburger will give you free sweet potato fries with a burger purchase through October 22, 2013. You need the Smashburger free fries coupon to get the deal.

Souplantation is having a one-day special for Boss’s day on October 16, 2013. Buy one adult meal plus two beverages and get a second adult meal for $1. You’ll need to print out the BOGO coupon and take it with you. For the rest of this month, that’s through October 31, 2013, get 20% off a catering order worth $100 or more. Check out the 20% off Souplantation discount here.

Subway continues its $5 Footlong special. October’s special $5 footlong is the Spicy Italian.

Check back for more restaurant coupons soon.

Recent related articles:

Eating Out on the Cheap

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Free Kindle Book (Mystery)
 October 16th, 2013

Who doesn’t enjoy a good mystery thriller type book? Especially for Halloween, and especially when it’s a free book.

Free Kindle E-Book download
October 16 & 17!

Tuscany Press, Publication Date: July 9, 2013
In this gripping mystery adventure, Ava, an MIT graduate student and expert in ancient languages, is awakened in the middle of the night by a phone call from an old friend, Paul, with a baffling request: Could she fly to Yemen immediately? He’s found something important and needs her help.

Paul’s subsequent coded e-mail alludes to what he and his boss, Simon Demaj, have found: the lost jars of Cana­the very jars that Jesus used at the wedding at Cana­and a puzzle to be solved. Are the jars authentic, and is there a prophecy somehow hidden in them?

At the same time a shocking global announcement is made: “. . . Pope Benedict XVI announced that he will resign for the good of the church . . .”

Is there a connection? Ava and Paul set off on a deadly global adventure to Yemen, Egypt, Malta, and Rome searching for answers. Every step of the way they’re chased by Paul’s unscrupulous billionaire boss, a drug lord, and corrupt officials.

A thrilling mix of historical and contemporary intrigue, The Cana Mystery keeps the reader wanting to know more.

This is a limited offer – valid only two days, so tell your friends and get your copy now!

San Diego on the Cheap often shares free Kindle download news. Use our search button and find other free books. Some are even for children.

13 cheap and easy Halloween costumes
 October 16th, 2013

easy cave girl costume

13 cheap and easy Halloween costumes to make

by Sheri McGregor, Editor/Publisher San Diego on the Cheap

You don’t have to spend a fortune for a good Halloween costume. In fact, you may not need to spend money at all. Making homemade costumes fosters children’s imagination and exercises creativity. Parents can work with their kids to make cool costumes out of things lying around the house. Use a few tricks like glue, tape and scissors, to transform on-hand items. Saved money, family cooperation and Halloween memories are the treat. This works for adult costumes, too.

Here are 13 ideas for cheap and easy Halloween costumes using items you probably already have around the house:

1. If you have an old wig, chances are it’s tangled – – perfect for a cave girl costume. Use a leopard print throw tied with rope for a skin dress, add a thick unibrow with old mascara and a bone necklace (save your chicken bones or buy cheap ones at the dollar store).

zombie costume to make
2. Turn your closet castoffs into costume classics. Look for basics. Solid color turtlenecks and tees, leotards, old suit jackets and bridesmaid dresses are a good place to start. A little face makeup, stiff, matted hair and a bouquet of black roses sold at the dollar store this time of year turn an old prom dress that’s collecting dust into a zombie bride costume. Ditto for a suit jacket with a black rose on the lapel. A fancy dress worn once can be a princess costume. Just add a cheap tiara. Get creative. If you don’t have what you need in your closet, use others’ castoffs. The thrift store is full of cheap costume possibilities.

3. Make use of an old graduation robe — it probably cost you quite a lot, so get some use out of it. Slip the graduation robe on, slick back your hair and draw in a widow’s peak with eyebrow pencil or mascara. Add some dollar store face makeup and fake fangs. Add a cheesy Dracula accent and meet the vampire.

Halloween costume from footed pajamas4. Solid-color footed pajamas can become almost anything. An old favorite was my youngest daughter’s creation. Permanent marker black spots and added puppy ears glued to a fuzzy headband got her started. Face paint made a shiny nose and whiskers. She wore a dog collar and carried a rawhide bone. Mimi was the cutest Dalmatian on the block. Pink pajamas could be a pig. Yellow a duck. Green a frog. Hmm. What might blue be?

5. Do you have an old slip? Kim of Minneapolis-St. Paul on the Cheap shares this great idea using a black dress slip and paper cut into strips. “On each strip of paper, write a word or phrase associated with Sigmund Freud.” Examples: Id, Ego, Superego, Oedipus Complex, Oral Fixation, Repression, etc. You could print the phrases in large font using your computer. “Tape the phrases to the slip,” says Kim. “And voila! You’re a Freudian slip.”

6. How about a box? Kim also shares an easy pop-up toy Jack-in-the-Box idea. Cut a hole in the bottom of a box, turn it upside down and decorate it with gift wrap, stars and trim. Use wide elastic, cut to the wearer’s height and stapled to the inside of the box for shoulder straps. A separate, decorated piece of cardboard attached with packing tape makes the lid. Kim’s husband made a fancy crank handle with some copper tubing, but a bent metal hanger wrapped in aluminum foil saves money. For the final touch, dress your child in a clown costume and place him or her inside the box.

7. Winter gear and a trash bag. Linda of Pikes Peak on the Cheap remembers one year when her son, then 13, hadn’t planned on trick or treating. When friends talked him into it, they pulled together an awesome zero-cost costume that kept her son nice and warm on a crisp Halloween night. He put on black socks, long underwear, gloves and shoes. Linda cut arm and leg holes in a big black trash bag. They glued on crumpled candy wrappers, stuffed the bag with newspaper and some empty cereal boxes and tied the top with black electrical tape. “He went as a trash bag,” says Linda. “He still talks about it 20 years later.” Linda’s son painted his face, but you might cut peep holes in an empty food box and tie the neck a little higher. Use your imagination.

8. Cheap black fabric. Linda’s husband also gets in on the cheap Halloween costume fun. For less than $10, he made a nun costume with a length of cheap black fabric (old curtains might work) and a head hole cut in the middle. He added a rope belt and a headpiece made from cardboard draped with a black veil. You can find cheap lengths of gauzy black fabric at discount stores this time of year. Linda’s husband added a discipline ruler. “For authenticity,” says Linda, whose husband sometimes has to wear the costume by popular demand. For more nun costume fun, wear a black dress with a headpiece from a black skirt and a white headband. A pregnant nun like this one looking for the father is particularly devilish.

easy web surfer costume
9. Surf the web. Julie of Say Why Not! created a simple costume that used a play on words. She draped on some inexpensive webbing, held an old keyboard and hung ten in her web surfer costume.  Another time, she put on a brown trash bag, taped on cut-outs that spelled M&Ms and went as bag of the popular candy.

10. Cheap and easy from your closet. Rose of Washington D.C. on the Cheap believes in quick and easy costumes. For a cowgirl, she says, “Get a cowgirl hat, tie up a shirt and call it a day.” Her personal favorite was dressing up like Tinkerbell in a cheap sparkly dress. She carried a wand made from a wooden kitchen spoon with a glued-on star.

11. Cook something up. Julie of Indianapolis on the Cheap suggests a quick costume in a pinch.  Some friends dressed their daughter in an apron, messed up her hair and threw flour in it as well as all over her face and clothes. She held a large mixing bowl as her trick-or-treat bucket, complete with a big spoon. She was the Mad Chef.

make an easy fly costume 12. Think outside the species. With three sons, busy Lori, who runs the Rockin’ L & D Ranch in California relied on creative, easy costumes.  When her oldest son was six or seven, he wore a bike helmet, Styrofoam bug eyes, and a cheap pair of wings to become a fly. They pushed her youngest boy in a stroller, his little round head the cutest of peas in his green blanket pod.

13. On the table. Let your imagination go wild. I remember an elementary school friend who took a sturdy square of cardboard covered with a tablecloth. She cut a head hole, set the “table” with taped on paper dishes and plastic forks, knives, and spoons. She cut out a head hole and balanced the table on her shoulders. Her head, wrapped in a scarf and topped with a bouquet of fake flowers, was the centerpiece.

To save money on costumes this Halloween, get creative and make your closet, local thrift stores and the dollar store your favorite haunts. You’ll have fun, encourage ingenuity and teach your kids the value of a dollar.

What’s your favorite cheap and easy Halloween costume? Click on “comments” below to tell about your Halloween creation.

Duck Dynasty Costumes at Halloween Express

Related articles:

*Free pumpkin carving patterns and stencils

* Cheap Halloween: Buy early

Cheap Halloween: Buy Early
 October 15th, 2013

The latest in San Diego on the Cheap’s Halloween series is a good tip for any seasonal retail buying: buy early.

For seasonal goods, early is always best. You get the best prices because retailers want to get off to a running start on sales. According to A. Cromwell, a woman who has worked in San Diego County retail for the last five years, the best sales are the early ones. Each year, as Halloween (and other holidays) get nearer and nearer, the offered discounts get smaller. “Buy early for the biggest discounts,” she says.

Does that mean you’re too late to get good Halloween deals? No…the deals today are better than they will be next week. And next week’s Halloween deals will be better than the ones you’ll find Halloween week. Selections will be better too (that goes without saying).

Avoid the last minute rush, and get your Halloween goodies now. Don’t forget your online retailers either.

* 10% off PLUS Free shipping available only at Halloween Express!

Costumes4less.com

Other articles in the Cheap Halloween series:

* Free pumpkin carving patterns and free pumpkin carving stencils
Buy Costumes

San Diego on the Cheap is an affiliate partner with one or more sites/links in this post.

Free pumpkin carving patterns
 October 14th, 2013

Neat, free pumpkin carving patterns.

~ posted by Sheri McGregor, San Diego on the Cheap

Be the envy of the spooky, Halloween neighborhood –  for free.

pumpkin carving patternsThe days of two triangle eyes and an uneven toothy grin aren’t totally gone, but you can do much better with all the great pumpkin patterns and Jack-O-Lantern stencils you can get for free. Find links below for hundreds of free pumpkin carving patterns.

Even if you don’t count yourself as artistic or good at working with your hands, you can carve some spooky, neat pumpkins to light up your porch or window. Every year, you’ll find new free pumpkin carving patterns you can download for free, as well as carving guides that keep you safe (let’s make sure the amputations and bloody fingers are plastic).

With the right carving tools like these great pumpkin carving sets that make pumpkin carving easy you’ll be carving artistic creations that scare up some fun for a spooky Halloween.

Get your free pumpkin-carving patterns at these websites:

Pumpkin Masters: Free pumpkin carving patterns

Better Homes & Gardens: Free pumpkin carving stencils for Halloween

Reader’s Digest: 27 Free Stencils for Pumpkins

Pumpkin Pile: Hundreds of Interesting themed free pumpkin carving patterns

The Pumpkin Lady: Free pumpkin patterns (also has a free carving guide download)

BuyCostumes.com

Costumes4less.com

San Diego on the Cheap is an affiliate partner with one or more of the sites/links listed in this post.

Birdwatching
 August 14th, 2013

San Diego has all sorts of opportunities to watch the birds, and with our moderate climate, almost every day of the year provides decent San Diego birdwatching opportunities. What a fun free San Diego activity. Birdwatching is a good family activity that fosters an appreciation for the natural world. Below, I’ve gathered a few resources for you to find the best San Diego birdwatching sites.

Gary Nunn’s San Diego Birding website is like taking a birdwatching trip from home. With lots of terrific photographs and up-close information on local birds, the site is a fun, information place to whet your appetite for San Diego birdwatching.

For a quick look at locations with directions and basic information, take a look at the San Diego Audobon Society’s Local Birding Sites page.

In the Oceanside/Carlsbad area, the Buena Vista Audobon Society provides some local birding hotspots for enthusiasts.

San Diego Birding Pages is a compilation of the personal records of a local birder, complete with online workshop, resources, and more.

San Diego Field Ornithologists is resource that helps you find birds, find people and events related to birds, learn about birds, and find online help.

The Port of San Diego offers a resource page with particular interest in the birds of San Diego bay.

If you want to talk with others about the birds you’ve sighted, and learn where others are sighting cool birds in San Diego, take a look at the San Diego County Birding yahoo group and consider joining in the conversation.

Another online group is one using flickr. The Birding in San Diego Pool offers terrific photos (of course).

Other great places to see the birds are in San Diego County’s open spaces and parks. Where there’s water, you’ll find more birds. Poway Lake, with its variety of trails for both casual walkers and those more physically fit is a nice place to view birds The black coots with their white bills and riotous squawking are fun to see, as are doves, scrub jays, and other birds you’ll find farther away from the water.

San Elijo Lagoon is another great place to see birds in San Diego County, and often you’ll see the big herons and egrets as well as a variety of smaller birds like wrens and towees.

On Fiesta Island, you can have fun with the gulls. If you have food — look out.

Some of the best birding opportunities happen in connection with hikes (easy ones as well as longer, San Diego backcountry hikes), so you may want to have a good San Diego hiking guide: 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: San Diego: Including North, South and East Counties

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Cheaper eggs, can you get them by keeping chickens
 August 8th, 2013

keeping chickens save money on eggsAre eggs cheaper when you keep chickens?

by San Diego on the Cheap Editor/Publisher, Sheri McGregor

Keeping backyard chickens is educational and fun, but is it really cheaper to keep your own chickens for eggs? Take it from me, an experienced chicken keeper, there’s no hard-boiled answer. Let me give you the facts so you can decide if keeping hens will save money on eggs.

First, do you care what sort of eggs you eat?  If you always buy the cheapest eggs, don’t care how the hens lived or that the dozen you pluck off the shelf may have been laid a month ago, then money-wise, you aren’t likely to come out ahead. Our local discount drugstore sells a dozen large eggs for ninety-nine cents. Unless your hens can roam a large piece of property to eat grass and forage for bugs, with only a little provided food, keeping chickens won’t be worth your time.

If, on the other hand, you go for the more expensive organic, lower-cholesterol or higher omega 3 fatty acid eggs, then raising hens may save you money. A dozen healthy specialty eggs can go for $5 to $7, depending on where you shop. Even so, there are variables. Read on to see if keeping a flock of laying hens is for you.

Getting Started
In any backyard chicken discussion, somebody clucks about start-up costs. Fancy chicken coops can run into the hundreds or even thousands of dollars, but if you build a coop out of scrap wood or alter an existing structure, you don’t have to spend much money. Scratch around on the Internet for lots of coop ideas. String wire around a trampoline, transform an old shed or convert an unused dog house. Most places around San Diego County, we don’t have to worry about elaborate insulation or electricity for heaters like people raising chickens in other areas of the nation might.

Feed and Breeds
A 50-pound bag of chicken feed costs as little as $12. Organic or soy-free feed costs much more, say $20 to $40. How much your chickens eat will depend on breed, individual personality and how much you’ll let them forage to feed themselves. Hunt and peck on the web for information about different chicken breeds. In my experience, flighty breeds like my Andalusians eat less.

You’ll also want to consider breeds’ laying reputations. Our barred rock hens lay beautiful big pink-beige eggs, but produce sporadically or cease laying altogether after about a year and a half. Before joining the backyard chicken craze, you’ll want to think about what you’ll do with the hens when they stop laying, too. People butcher them, but you may not be able to eat Henny Penny once she’s become a pet. Hens are fun to watch. They take dirt baths, peck around, and nap with outstretched wings in the mid-day sun. One of mine likes to sit in laps and be stroked like a kitten.

On an acre, our 10 chickens run free, eating up all the snails, slugs and bugs they can find. No pesticides needed here (so we save money). Our chickens also eat table scraps. Purchased food is a supplement, but we still go through a 50-lb bag every few months. Some keepers buy grit and other supplements, too.

Whether or not keeping chickens will save you money can be as simple or as complex as your favorite egg salad. Only you know the precise ingredients. Does keeping chickens save money on eggs? Study up so you can decide for yourself. Chickens Magazine has a wealth of information from me and other keepers.

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